My readers often ask me to recommend speakers to use with the Audio Technica AT-LP60 USB and AT-LP120 USB. Receivers are expensive and many people prefer to have few things around to avoid clutter. I thought it would be helpful to write an article for people needing a simple audio setup for their turntable. The information on this article applies to any turntable that has RCA LINE level outputs, not just the AT-LP60 USB.
The Easiest Turntable Setup
There are some self-contained record players on the market with built in speakers. However, most good turntables, are sold separately without speakers. Separate component record players, like the AT-LP60 and AT-LP120 need a set of speakers and an amplifier to work. In my review of the AT-LP60, I explained different possible audio setups. The simplest setup consists of directly connecting your turntable to a pair of powered speakers through a RCA cable. On the AT-LP60 and AT-LP120, the RCA cable is hardwired to the back of the unit. Just connect the RCA cable of your turntable to the RCA input of the powered speaker. The setup looks something like this.
Notice that the speakers are self powered. It means that they have a built in amplifier. Powered speakers need to be connected to a power source. If your speakers don’t have a power cord, they won’t work unless they run on batteries.
Any powered speakers will do, but for this article, I chose computer speakers or studio monitor speakers that have RCA LINE/AUX inputs and that cost less than $200. The Audioengine A2+ is one of the most popular speakers used by turntable owners but I didn’t include this product here because it cost more than $200. They are often sold in a bundle with the AT-LP60 USB. I thought it was important to mention it.
Receiver vs Powered Speakers
The setup outlined above is very easy and convenient but there are some downsides. Separate component turntables don’t have a volume control. This means that you have to control the volume from the speakers or from the receiver. Receivers are great because you can control many aspects of the sound during playback like volume, equalization, balance and they even have a remote control. Unfortunately, they are expensive and speakers are still needed.
If you choose to use powered speakers instead, you won’t be able to control the equalization of the music and you will have to control the volume from the speakers without a remote control. I don’t find this a problem but it depends on each individual’s preference. Recording studio monitors sound great, but the equalization is flat since they are designed to reproduce the recording mix as accurate and clear as possible.
Again, I don’t mind the flat equalization, but if you decide to go with studio monitors, be aware that you won’t have complete control over the sound. So, you save space and money but you loose control over the sound.
What follows is the list of powered speakers with a brief description. They are sorted out by price, least expensive first. If you find them too expensive, you can search for cheaper computer speakers. Just remember that the cheaper the product, the lower the sound quality in general.
Powered Speakers Comparison
Click the link for
|RCA||1/4' Jack||1/8' Jack||USB||Bass |
|Alesis M1 Active 320 USB||✓||✓||✓||✓||✗||✗||✗|
|M-Audio Studiophile AV 30||✓||✗||✓||✗||✗||✗||✗|
Logitech Speaker System Z323 with Subwoofer
An affordable option for someone on a budget. The Logitech Z323 has a clear sound with rich bass. You can connect your computer, DVD, gaming console or tablet as it comes with RCA and 3.5 mm inputs. It has headphone and line connections. On the back of the subwoofer, there is a knob that lets you control the bass volume. With its power of 30W you can fill up a small room. The Logitech Z323 has many positive reviews and ratings. Some consumers recommend using the RCA inputs as the 3.5 mm are bad quality and may produce some bass distortion.
If you need more power you may consider the Z523 with 40W, it has better sound and the location of the bass knob is more convenient. It costs a little bit more, though.
Alesis M1 Active 320 USB
For the price, this pair of studio monitor speakers produce a great sound. You can connect your turntable to the RCA inputs. It also come with 1/8” stereo input and two 1/4” inputs. These speakers come with a USB port, so they can be connected to your PC. You can play music from your computer. You cannot, however, connect your AT LP60 USB directly to the Alesis M1 USB port. The USB is port is only for PC connection. This set of speakers work as an audio interface. It means that you can record your vinyl records into your computer through the speakers. This is very helpful if your turntable does not have USB connection. These speakers have a headphone jack and a bass boost switch. They have a power of 10W per channel, so they may not be to loud for a large room.
M-Audio Studiophile AV 30 and AV 40
A very popular set of speakers with a very clear sound. It has RCA inputs and a 1/8” aux input. There are some differences between the AV 30 and AV 40. The AV 30 has a better price. It has a 10W per channel amplifier. The AV is more expensive but it has a better amplifier (15W) and the speakers are bigger. They also have a better frequency response. The AV 30 has lower ratings, many complains about one of the speakers not working before a year of use.
Mackie CR3 Multimedia Monitors
Mackie is a trusted brand and this set of monitors is very popular. This product has many positive ratings and reviews. The CR3 Multimedia Monitors have a very competitive price and they produce a very nice and clear sound. It has a volume knob on the front. They have RCA, 1/4” and 1/8” inputs. They come with a headphone output. There is no bass volume knob. These monitors feature 50W of power. With its position selector you decide which speaker output the left or right channel. Because of the great ratings of this product, I’m even thinking about buying a pair for myself.
Behringer MS40 Digital Monitor Speakers
The MS40 has an amlifier of 20W per channel. This product has good ratings. It has digital inputs and analog inputs. In the case of a turntable you don’t really need the digital inputs. It has RCA Line and 1/8” analog inputs. What I like about this product is that it has both Bass and Treble control knobs which gives you a little bit of control over the equalization. It has a connection for headphones with 1/4” jack connector.
There are really endless options, specially if you have a good budget. You could hookup your turntable to a home theater system, receiver, wireless transmitter or an existing stereo sound system. If you are on a tight budget, you may consider buying a set of inexpensive computer speakers, there are tons on the market.
Finally, there are three more powered speakers that are popular among turntable owners, but I didn’t include them here, either because of their price or lack of RCA inputs. I just wanted to mention them, just in case. Bose Companion 2 Series III, Presonus Eris E4.5 and Audioengine A2+.